Diane serves as a Program Manager for Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC) based in New York where she works on strategic insurtech opportunities across North America. A Fortune 200 global professional services firm, MMC advises multinational clients on risk, strategy, and people.
Diane first joined Marsh in 2013 whilst living in London, where she planned and coordinated key strategic and operational initiatives within the Specialty Practices, reporting directly to the COO. An opportunity then presented itself in 2014 to move to New York to work for their Corporate Strategy team which she gladly accepted, having wanted to work in the US from a young age. Here she developed global experience improving and managing strategic initiatives across the global organization. She recently changed role and is now working as Program Manager where she looks to optimizes Marsh’s Insurtech investments upon acquisition.
Prior to working at Marsh & McLennan Companies, Diane worked at First Derivatives as a capital markets consultant. She graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a MA in Business & Economics. She joined the IIBN when she first moved to New York and is acting as Chair of the IIBN Future Leaders Board in 2017.
She grew up on a farm in Co. Wexford where she was the youngest of five children which set the scene for a strong work ethic and passion for Irish produce. Nothing delights her more to see the likes of Wexford cheddar and Kerrygold butter displayed on the supermarket shelves here in New York.
Why did you join the IIBN?
Since I emigrated from Ireland in 2011, I’ve found it very important to keep close connections with my home country and the Irish diaspora, both on a personal and professional level. There’s a wealth of great Irish networks here in New York but I found the IIBN the best fit for me given the welcoming presence at their events and the impressive membership base showcasing the cream of Ireland from top industry leaders to trailblazing grads. It truly is a diverse, inclusive Irish community with great things happening! I’d highly recommend participating in IIBN’s Irish Executive Mentoring Program (IEMP) for all of you budding young professionals. I took part in the program when I first joined the IIBN in 2015 and was placed with a wonderful mentor, Nicole O’Sullivan, an attorney at LeClair Ryan, who really helped me rethink my career strategy.
Describe a day in the life of a Program Manager at Marsh & McLennan Companies
A normal day is hard to articulate because by definition a Program Manager role can be very varied. Due to the unique scope of projects, the daily priorities and requirements of the role can vary significantly. Nonetheless, there are of course some constants when not travelling for work, with a typical day starting in my one bed apartment in Manhattan. Living in Hell’s Kitchen, I’m lucky to avoid the subway and walk to work, normally arriving at the office around 8:00am. A cup of coffee is always high on my agenda and acts as a perfect companion for my first delve into emails. Depending on how many projects are in progress and their status, a large part of my day is spent in meetings and on calls with our other offices with a diverse range of stakeholders across the business. Just as the range of stakeholders can be diverse, so can the subject matter and purpose of the meetings. I could find myself discussing technology implementations in one meeting and presenting new sales strategies in the next.
Personally speaking, cross-functional engagement is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my role as it certainly provides exposure to the broader business, including the C-Suite, Finance, IT, Legal, as well as third party vendors. Outside of meetings, my time is spent drafting PowerPoint presentations, writing project schedules, and doing data analysis. During the day it’s not unusual for the occasional curve ball to arrive in the form of a project issue in some shape or form. Although I consider myself to be structured and methodical in nature, I enjoy these unexpected challenges, it helps keep things fresh.
What has been your most challenging professional experience?
Working at Marsh, I've had the opportunity to lead the integration of two company acquisitions, both in the Insurtech space. The experience was fantastic but it was complete mayhem at times. Few organizational changes are as dramatic and stressful as an acquisition. The moment people at a company are notified that they have been acquired, all hell typically breaks loose and emotions immediately start rising. From these experiences I learned a great deal about the fundamentals of navigating the drama and tension within an acquired company and delivering a successful integration.
What would you like to do professionally in 2017?
I’m interested in exploring opportunities where I can assist Irish businesses looking to establish themselves and grow in New York and around the U.S. I’m also looking forward to leading the Future Leaders Board this year; we’ve got some great ideas flowing so now it’s time to put them into action!
What business leader do you most admire and why?
I have a lot of respect for any woman who has been able to break into the upper echelons of the corporate world, but Sheryl Sandberg and Angela Ahrendts are two particularly strong examples of the success women can achieve in business. Sandberg was able to rise through the ranks of a male-dominated industry, which takes a lot of dedication, in addition to a very tough skin. Ahrendts is a shining example of someone who started from the bottom of the ladder and worked her way to the very top, a truly commendable feat. I also admire that fact that they have not let her career get in the way of raising a family. Women can have both, but like any successful multitasking endeavor, it requires a lot of hard work, pure grit and determination.
What does success mean to you?
Somewhere along the line, I started to believe that money equals success. As I progress through my career and work my way up the corporate ladder I’ve come to learn that true success lies much deeper than monetary goals. Instead, figure out what you want to do, find ways to do it, and earn money to help you do it. You’re much more likely to find yourself in a career you’re passionate about and you know that they say; follow your passion and never work a day in your life.
What advice would you offer your 21-year- old self?
Take a leap of faith in yourself as you’ve got nothing to lose but everything to gain. Don’t be afraid of failure, embrace it. If you fail, you’ll become smarter. If you succeed, you’ll gain even more self-confidence and the emotional and financial rewards. You’ll never know the limit of how much you can achieve until you take a leap of faith in yourself and try. I’m a naturally risk adverse person so taking a leap of faith in my own abilities is something I find difficult but I’m a firm believer that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Just don’t let yourself stand in your own way!